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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Thai Red Cross

The King who gave birth to the Thai Red Cross

In Year 112 of the Rattanakosin Era (1893), a territorial dispute between France and Siam over land on the left bank of the Mekhong River resulted in many casualties on both sides. Because there was no charitable organization to help alleviate their suffering, Thanpuying Plien Pasakornravongs gathered together a group of female volunteers and proposed to Queen Sawang Wadhana that His Majesty the King's permission be sought to set up "The Red Unalom Society of Siam," the purpose of which was to help relieve the suffering of injured soldiers. His Majesty King Chulalongkorn's response to the proposal was favorable. He offered his support and allowed for funds totaling 443,716 baht, an enormous sum at the time, to be collected. His Majesty the King also appointed Queen Sawang Wadhana as "the mother of the Society", Queen Saovabha Bhongsri as "the Society's President", and Thanpuying Plien Pasakornravongs as "the Society's Secretary".

Thanpuying Plien was a modern, creative, intelligent and far-sighted woman, and it was she who initiated Red Cross activities in Siam.

His Majesty King Chulalongkorn appreciated the intention and dedication of Thanpuying Plien. He understood how the creation of "The Red Unalom Society" could contribute to efforts to modernize the kingdom. Therefore, His Majesty granted permission to found the organization on April 26, 1893, which is known as the Thai Red Cross Society Foundation Day.

Another major milestone in the history of the Society in Thailand came when King Vajiravudh passed through Japan on his way home from England, where he had completed his studies. His Majesty, then the Crown Prince, was deeply impressed by the work of the Japanese Red Cross Hospital. He believed that the creation of a similar hospital in Thailand would be tremendously beneficial to the people and the country. Thus, upon the death of his father, King Chulalongkorn, King Vajiravudh, together with his brothers and sisters, decided to raise funds from Royal donations and from the Red Unalom Society for the construction of a hospital belonging to the Red Cross Society of Siam on the King's private land. Completed in 1914, the hospital was named the "King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital" by King Vajiravudh in honor of his father. The names "Red Unalom Society" and "Red Cross Society" were used alternately until 1910 when the name "Red Unalom Society" disappeared and the Society became known as the Siamese Red Cross Society. Later this was changed to the Thai Red Cross Society.

The Thai Red Cross was officially recognized by the International Committee of the Red Cross on May 27, 1920, and was accepted as a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (the former League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) on April 8, 1921.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wat Phra Baht Nam Phu

Temple history
Lopburi is a sleepy rural town 120 km north of Bangkok. It is steeped in history with civilizations dating back at least 1,200 years. In the mid-1700s, it was briefly the capital of Siam under King Narai. These days it is best known for its legion of monkeys which have turned the town into a local tourist attraction ... and for the AIDS temple.

In 1992 a Buddhist monk, Dr Alongkot Dikkapanyo, turned a normal upcountry Buddhist temple into a small hospice to care for fully-blown AIDS patients. At that time Thailand was finally coming to terms with AIDS, after various governments had tried to cover up the problem in the interests of tourism.

That initial eight-bed hospice grew to the 400-bed complex it is today.

Thailand is a country still suffering under many misconceptions about AIDS. People fear the disease, and HIV sufferers are shunned by their family, friends and community. Three years ago, a bomb was tossed into an AIDS center in the middle of Bangkok. The incident occurred after residents tried to get the center to move because they didn't want AIDS sufferers in their area. Even the authorities didn't mind the bomb being tossed.

Thammarak Niwet Housing Project

We are currently turning the soil on the Thammarak Niwet Project ... and we need your help.

The Thammarak Niwet Project is a housing village for 10,000 HIV and AIDS patients. Like the temple, its aims are twofold -- to provide a resting place for AIDS sufferers where they can be treated with kindness and mercy, and to be a centre for education and information about AIDS.
The land for the project has already been purchased. Construction for Phase One began in February 1998, and hopes to be completed by September of the same year. There will be five phases. The project was begun by Her Majesty the Princess Mother, who donated Bt300,000 in 1995. The project hopes to be completed by December 1999 and will then be presented to His Majesty King Bhumipol Adulyadej of Thailand, on the occasion of his 72nd birthday.

The entire cost of the project is Bt1,500 million (US$30 million). Phase One will cost Bt400 million (US$8 million) and began in February. Phase Two will begin in March. The phases will run concurrently.

A total of 2,542 houses will be constructed. These will range from one-bedroom houses to five-bedroom houses. The project is asking donors to purchase houses for AIDS sufferers. One-bedroom houses cost Bt120,000 (US$2,400).

The land for the project is situated on Highway 3353, 224 km from Bangkok. It is 70 km from the temple at Lopburi. The entire project covers 800 acres, or 3,200 sq km.
The aim of the project is to create an awareness of the AIDS situation in the Thai community. Outisde of being simply a housing project, it will also be a centre for study, education and information about HIV and AIDS.

Other aims include:

to help people who don't have AIDS live peacefully with people who do;

to assist AIDS patients with kindness and mercy;

to explain to Thais how one can protect oneself against AIDS;

to educate the family of AIDS patients on proper care for them;

to educate the community to accept and live with AIDS patients.

The project will be built on former farmland. There is a large number of trees on the site which will be maintained. The village is near two public roads and a canal.

Electricity will be available via the main roads. Within the project's environs, the main roads (10 m wide) and minor roads (6 m wide) will be made from asphalt. There is an underground bore and a special waste water treatment plant will be constructed.

The project will be divided into two zones.

Zone 1 will be used for visitors and workers who are not HIV positive. It will comprise a meeting hall for up to 500 people, conference rooms, a restaurant, office and mini mart, park, housing for conference participants, and rest areas.

Zone 2 will be used for HIV and AIDS patients and will comprise of housing, hospital, temple, handicraft factory, farming area, herb gardens and exercise areas.

Since July, 1997, the Thai economy has suffered a dramatic downtown. As a result, our project is in jeopardy. Please help us if you can. The number of HIV and AIDS patients in Thailand grows every day at a rate of 500 people. The need for this project is critical.

If you have any questions about the project, E-mail to :

If you want to know more information go to

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Thai Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals

TSPCA'S History

An independent and non-profit organization, the Thai Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TSPCA) was officially established on 31 January 1994, by a voluntary management council. Mr.Meechai Veeravaidya was appointed as its first Chairman . In August 1997, TSPCA had been granted an affiliate status with the UK-based Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) which has worldwide network of over 140 countries.On 16 October 1997, TSPCA has been officially registered as non-profit and non-governmental organization to be active on the conservation and protection of Thailand’s natural resources and environment according to the Act on the Promotion and Conservation of the Quality of Natural Resources and Environment B.E. 2535

Thailand is perceived topping a list of countries with frequent violations and cruelty to animals. These include wild animals, some pets, stray animals, animals used for commercial purposes and in laboratory testing situations.

Although many concerned citizens and tourists have filed complaints about a range of abuses, including for example indecent captivity, and the torturing of animals, in training for the purpose of display, elephants, tigers, bears and monkeys, gibbons and snakes are all subject to such continuing malpractice.

Cruelty to animals has become a worldwide topic – and for Thailand, is a national disgrace that has been used as an undeniable excuse to impose trade sanctions on Thai exports. For instance to increase productivity some animal owners reduce animal living space, to much below recommended minimum levels, whilst others force fat contact out of pigs, to sell them as wild hogs, by using electric shocks to keep them running!

Thousands of animal species have already become extinct because of human exploitation – including hunting for sport, for trade or exhibition, or commercial use.

Most animals are as much flesh and blood as human beings, feeling love, stress, loneliness and fear, pain, discomfort and hunger, in exactly the same way as we do – and to treat them cruelty, by not recognizing these common needs, and only be described as inhuman.

There are also several other problems that contribute to the animal cruelty situation in Thailand. The national legislation concerning animal cruelty has not been improved; yet the laws enforcement is still insufficient. Similarly, the Thai public has not been sufficiently informed about the issue.

TSPCA has worked on the prevention of cruelty and providing better welfare to animals in Thailand for well over a decade with more lessons learned and the present project will on the basis of these and other related experiences launch a comprehensive awareness raising, rescue operations, animal act reform and other related campaign in Thailand.

If you want to see more information